446 medicines found spurious in five years

Updated January 19, 2020

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Ministry of National Health Services spokesperson Sajid Shah claimed that the performance of the regulatory body had improved over the years. — AFP/File
Ministry of National Health Services spokesperson Sajid Shah claimed that the performance of the regulatory body had improved over the years. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: During the last five years, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) collected over 200,000 samples from medical stores and health facilities and chemical analysis found 446 of them spurious.

However, the five-year data showed that with every passing year the number of drugs declared spurious had decreased.

Ministry of National Health Services spokesperson Sajid Shah claimed that the performance of the regulatory body had improved over the years.

According to National Assembly documents, a question was asked by PML-N legislator Azhar Qayyum Nahra about the total number of spurious drugs about which the general public had been provided awareness by Drap during the last five years.

The reply from the ministry of NHS stated that 229,453 samples were tested at the federal and provincial drug testing laboratories.

Ministry documents show number of drugs declared spurious is decreasing every year

In 2015, as many as 40,291 samples were collected, out of which 202 were found spurious. In 2016, 43,705 samples were sent to drug testing labs and 96 of them were found spurious.

In year 2017, as many as 59,611 samples were collected and labs declared 83 of the samples as spurious. In 2018, 44,146 samples were collected and 41 were found spurious. However, in 2019, only 24 samples out of the total 41,700 were found spurious.

The documents claimed that on the receipt of a report from the Central Drugs Testing Laboratory declaring a drug spurious, Drap issued a recall alert to its field offices, provincial health departments and the manufacturer to save the general public from possible hazard.

Medicines found spurious or substandard in 2019 and mentioned by Drap were: chlorpheniramine syrup and galtran tablets. In 2018, cardol tablets, quinozef 250mg tablets, magnett-DS suspension, amropyron injection (for vet only), zerodol tablets and samodryl expectorant were found spurious or substandard. In year 2015, amcof cough syrup was found spurious.

Mr Shah said whenever a medicine was found spurious or substandard, the company was directed to recall the medicine from the market at the earliest.

“Moreover, advisories are immediately sent to medical stores and health facilities to stop selling and prescribing the medicine. Health of the people is very important for us and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza has been pushing Drap to ensure that only quality medicines are provided to the citizens,” he said.

Mr Shah said Drap had introduced the global unique identification code system in Pakistan to eradicate the sale of spurious drugs and overpricing.

Because of the new system, buyers can verify a medicine and its price. Moreover, the new system will also make it possible to track the movement of a medicine and recall it in case of any complaint.Prices of medicines can also be checked through the bar code system, he added.

Drap Chief Executive Officer Dr Asim Rauf told Dawn that out of 627 pharmaceutical companies, around 300 had implemented the bar code system.

The other firms will also start implementing it soon, he said.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2020